21 Aug Houston, We Finally Got a Brewery in Bellaire! CounterCommon’s Grand Opening Was Grand Indeed
Houston, We Finally Got a Brewery in Bellaire! CounterCommon’s Grand Opening Was Grand Indeed
The first weekend of August was an exciting time on Bellaire Blvd. From food to beer, atmosphere to service, everything about this brewery in Bellaire is promising.
“Hey y’all, you can add another new kick ass brewpub to the Houston/Bellaire beer scene. We are CounterCommon Beerworks and Kitchen located at 5413 Bellaire Blvd in the Bellaire Triangle.”
One of my favorite things about helping run Beer Chronicle is receiving texts and emails like these where passionate consumers and beer hobbyists give us little tips and news. 6 years strong, and I promise you, it takes a village (if you’re interested in being a part of that village, give us a shout – we’re looking for some help with social media).
This email was a little different, though. It wasn’t just a passionate beer fanatic excited that there’s a brewery in Bellaire. Nope. This was one of the team members at Counter Common making sure we had our site up to date! Andy Pinkerton, the GM. Love it.
Thanks for the heads up and invite, Andy! You rock.
Anyhow, my wife and I decided to make a little date out of it. Found somebody to watch the kids, put on my best Beer Chronicle shirt, and we headed out to the Bellaire Triangle.
CounterCommon Beerworks is All About the Details
The first thing that caught my eye when I entered was the soft lighting from above, filtered by wooden slats and mixed with natural light entering from all the windows. It had a modern, polished-well put together look and feel that was somehow also really homey. The artwork on the concrete grabbed my eye second, then the fishbowl view into the surgically clean brewhouse and fermentors on the left. Everywhere I turned, I saw a new little yummy detail. I love love love places like this.
Needless to say, after just a few steps into the place, I’m pumped and ready to sample some beer and food.
As we took our seats, I noticed the functional artwork on the walls. It looked at first like it was meant to help with sound dampening, but upon further inspection, there was some unique geometry in there. I knew there had to be something to it, but I couldn’t figure it out. Co-Founder and CEO Jaime later explained to Danielle and I that it’s literally the Bellaire Triangle. So smart. Again, the details, y’all.
We Bellied Up to the Brewery in Bellaire for Some Beer, So Let’s Get to the Brew
For starters, Jaime and his counterpart Dennis are tripping. These guys broke in their system with a Helles. Let that sink in for a minute.
The beer nerds reading this just gasped and gulped a bit, but for anybody who’s not sure why that matters, it’s pretty simple. To begin, it’s tough to scale from home-brew recipes that are done in very small batches to brewing them on a much bigger scale. It’s not as simple as 10x the ingredients and get brewing.
Furthermore, the new gear offers new challenges. Times, temps, pressure, and several other variables become new lessons to learn on a new system. That award winning home-brew recipe might have to get dumped as many as 2-3 times on a full scale brewhouse before it’s really dialed in.
This complexity is true of scaling any recipe. Add on top of that, a Helles is a very nuanced beer. Jaime referred to it as “a tattle tale beer” because any little mistake that’s made in the process will be noticeable.
Lemme tell y’all right now, it was a dang good Helles. Being brutally honest, I usually don’t care to attend grand openings for this very reason. Most breweries need a couple weeks (months even) to really dial in their system, scale their recipes, and make their best beer. Rather than go and be disappointed at first, I usually wait before checking out the beer. I’m glad I didn’t wait for CounterCommon. It would’ve been time wasted.
Aside from a dang good Münchin Bier Helles that was sharp and bright, the Nein Schadenfreude Kölsch was deliciously clean, the Copy/Paste #1 Hazy IPA was super light, approachable, and citrusy, and the Thanks A Lot, Erchick Pale Ale was the stunner. The hazy was probably my least fav, but that’s not a mark against it. The Pale Ale, Kolsch, and Helles were just better. I didn’t get to the Altbier, but I’ll be back *Terminator voice*
But wait! There’s more!
Not only did these crazies break in their system with a dang Helles, all the rest of the beers were all first batches. Well. Freaking. Done. I know when I go back a couple of months from now, they’ll be even better after they continue dialing them in, but the bar was set really high.
CounterCommon Has Some Uncommon Beer, But What About the Food?
Man. Hold. Up. There are some breweries that have food, and there are some restaurants that make their own beer, if you know what I mean. Saint Arnold, for example, is stunningly good at both. CounterCommon reminds me of Saint Arnold in this way. Obviously, it’s much smaller, and the similarities are few, but in terms of quality and unique flavors, it’s spot on.
Fun fact, some of the CounterCommon team got their training at Texas’ best brewing school – a humble little spot off of Lyons Ave., Saint Arnold Brewing. Head brewer and Co-Founder Dennis cut his teeth at Saint Arnold, but I digress. This section is supposed to be about the food, not the dudes!
While Danielle and I sat, sipping my flight and her cider, we were salivating watching the others around us get their dishes. Everything looked delicious.
There’s a thread of Mexican and Korean influence throughout the menu, thanks partially to Dennis and Jaime’s cultures, but there’s also a handful of odd cultural offshoots that somehow fit in a stylish little brewpub. Things like Vietnamese, Thai, German, and the ubiquitous burgers, fries, and wings.
Smoked cheddar & roasted garlic pork sausage was fire. The saltiness was a great balance with the beer, and the mustard, pickled veggies, and spent grain bread were great accoutrements. I’ve been known to order an app or two as my entree, and I’m glad I did. Baos were baller. And the Kimchi fried rice was ridiculously good. We ended up having to take some home because we were full by the time we got to the end.
In case you didn’t know, dessert stomach is a real thing, and science said so. So we thought we were full, and then Danielle wanted to try some dessert, so our stomachs opened up just enough for a few bites of the Guanaja Chocolate Pot de Crème. It’s basically a very fancy deconstructed s’mores. I’ve never had an orange blossom marshmallow, but lemme tell y’all, you need it in your belly.
Much like the interior design and the beer, no detail was spared at this brewery in Bellaire. Similar to the beer, not only will they dial things in and make it better, the menu will evolve with time.
“Our talented culinary team draws from their personal backgrounds and experiences for inspiration when developing our dishes! Our food menu is heavily influenced by Asian and Latin American cuisines, and tailored to complement our constant rotating beer menu.”
There were a few things that Jaime mentioned don’t make sense financially, and will be cut, and others that are on their way as seasons change. I can’t tell you what they were, though, so you’ll have to go check it out for yourself.
CounterCommon Was Uncommonly Good, and you Can Count on Their Success
The story behind their name is a bit of a double entendre – CounterCommon. Literally speaking, the opposite of common, but a bit deeper, sharing a bite and a beer over a counter in a shared, or common, space with others enjoying the same moments. They nailed it.
This little brewery in Bellaire may be considered a brewpub by licensing standards, but they’re 100% brewery and 100% badass restaurant in my book. They’re in the same strip as legendary Blood Bros, so expect some collabs one day. Maybe we’ll get the chance to be one of them… 👀
Beers to you, Houston. 🍻